Kyiv, Apr 20 (EFE).- Russian troops are regrouping for a new offensive push on the Lyman city in Donetsk as part of their campaign to seize the control of the disputed eastern region of Donbas, the Ukraine military said Wednesday.
The Ukraine military has been preparing for the much-anticipated assault on the eastern flank after the Russians withdrew from the north to focus their strategic energy on Donbas bordering Russia.
The Ukraine army has been battling an eight-year war with Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas territory that includes two vast regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, running from outside Mariupol in the south way to the northern border.
State-run Ukrinform news agency reported that the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said the “clear goal” of the Russian troops was to capture Mariupol and gain control over the Kherson region in the south.
“(They are) trying to continue their offensive operations in the eastern operational zone in order to establish full control over the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” the military said.
While Lyman appears to be the main target of the Russian forces, another Donetsk town, Marinka, has also seen intensified attacks over the past day.
“The second phase of the war has begun,” said the presidential chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, on the Telegram messaging app.
Ukrinform said the Russian reinforcements had set the stage for a protracted battle that would “inflict heavy losses on both sides as “the Russians try to encircle Ukrainian fighters dug in to defend the Donbas region.”
The Russian military has also continued the partial blockade of Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv, south of the Russian border, leading into the separatist-controlled east.
The city has suffered intense bombing for weeks.
The Ukrainian military command also noted that the Russians continued their efforts to gain control of the strategic city of Mariúpol amid an ongoing assault on the Azovstal steel plant, where the last Ukrainian troops were resisting and where more than 1,000 civilians were hiding.
On Wednesday, Russia gave Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol another ultimatum to surrender after the previous deadlines expired. EFE